Competition watchdog finds high fuel margins 'concerning' for drivers

Competition watchdog finds high fuel margins 'concerning' for drivers
The Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) latest monitoring report on road fuel has revealed that there has been a ‘concerning’ rise in fuel prices since late January.

Later this year, the CMA’s statutory compulsory information gathering powers will come into effect, and today’s report reviewed the state of the fuel market since the previous update in November 2023.

The report covers prices from the end of October 2023 to the end of February 2024, and while pump prices for both petrol and diesel have decreased since October 2023, this can be divided into two separate periods.

From late October to late January petrol prices decreased by approximately 14ppl (from 153.97ppl to 139.39 ppl) but between January and late February fuel prices have edged up by around 5ppl (to 144.73 ppl).

The price of diesel also fell 14ppl (from 161.76ppl to 147.93ppl) between late October to late January. Since then, it has risen by over 6ppl (to 154.53ppl) between January and late February. This has been driven, in part, by global factors such as changing crude oil prices.

Dan Turnbull, Senior Director of Markets at the CMA, said: “Drivers are feeling the pinch as fuel prices have been edging up since January. We’re particularly concerned by high margins which indicate weakened competition and are not a good sign for drivers.

“Today’s report reinforces the need for Pumpwatch and statutory powers to be in place as soon as possible, to ensure competition is effective in this market and to get a better deal for UK drivers.”

Further to the rising price of fuel, the report also revealed that the fuel margins of retailers remain at a very high level.

According to the CMA, supermarkets in the UK recorded margins of 4% in 2017. This then increased to 7.6% in 2022 – which was the year the market study was carried out.

This then increased again to 7.8% in 2023.

RAC head of policy Simon Williams said: “We have long flagged the problem of some retailers inflating their margins on fuel, which has been to the severe detriment of drivers who are already having to cope with wider spiralling motoring-related costs.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see the Competition and Markets Authority keeping a close eye on this as it should make retailers think twice about upping their margins.

“We have recently provided our recommendations on what the fuel price monitoring function should track to best benefit drivers every time they fill up. We now need to ensure that this once-in-a-generation opportunity of guaranteeing fairer fuel prices isn’t missed.”

RAC Breakdown Cover

RAC Breakdown Cover

With our cover, the difference is in your pocket.

*New customers only. Applies to Extra and Complete cover for 1 vehicle or 1 person. Ends 04/06/24, 7am. ^£7 for new, single vehicle Basic cover. Not in sale.

RAC Breakdown Cover